A note from the Content Guy: My Dad passed away on Friday, and with your permission, the next few days of MNB will be somewhat abbreviated ... I'll try to offer you a taste of MNB each day, but not the full meal. ("Sansolo Speaks" will run as usual on Tuesday, as will "The Innovation Conversation" on Wednesday, for example.)
This morning, I thought I'd share with you his obituary...
Walter A. Coupe, whose 90 years were marked by love of family, a commitment to his faith, and an unending enthusiasm for teaching and learning, passed away on Friday, June 9, at home with his children in Stamford, Connecticut. The cause of death was complications from dementia, which he faced with grace, good cheer and characteristic charm for the past several years.
Born in the Bronx to Thomas and Anne Coupe, the youngest of six children, Walter went to Cardinal Hayes High School and served in the US Navy and the Pacific theater during World War II. He then earned his Bachelors and two Masters degrees from Fordham University, and eventually became the first male elementary school teacher to work in the Mamaroneck Public Schools.
It was during this time that Walter experienced the defining moment of his life - he met and fell in love with Joan Brett. Their first date was at Ebbets Field, an irony since he was a New York Giants fan at the time and Joan really didn't care about baseball. They were married on June 23, 1951, and moved to the New York suburbs - first to Yonkers, then to New Rochelle, and finally to Larchmont.
Walter spent virtually his entire working life as an educator in the Mamaroneck Public Schools. Over the years he taught fourth, fifth and sixth grades at Chatsworth Avenue School and Murray Avenue School, and later became assistant principal at Mamaroneck Avenue School, and finally achieved his dream job - principal at Murray Avenue School. As principal, he viewed himself as the "principle teacher," and continued to spend as much time in the classroom as his schedule would allow. Among his favorite things to do was to venture out on the playground at lunchtime, and play with the kids - shoot baskets, play kickball and just hang with them. It kept him involved. It kept him connected. It was who he was.
As Walter moved up in the school district, Joan and he also were having a family. A big one, which is what they both wanted. Four girls (Debbie, Deirdre, Amy and Clare) and three boys (Kevin, Brendan, and Tim), which required increasingly larger houses in Larchmont, because Walter also liked living in the same community where he worked. He also tutored kids in math and science, owned and ran a summer day camp, and even taught ice skating during the winter.
Faith also was an important component of Walter's life. As a parishioner at Saints John & Paul Church in Larchmont, and later at St. Catherine of Siena in Riverside, Connecticut, he was a lector and a Eucharistic Minister; he also served on the parish council, and both Joan and he were longtime and enthusiastic members of the Christian Family Movement (CFM). Walter lived his faith, and from time to time at home, sometimes without prompting, he would warble "God is Love" to whatever audience happened to be available.
Walter retired from the school district in 1986. He and Joan moved to Cos Cob, Connecticut, and did some traveling together and relaxed for the first time in years. Retirement actually allowed him the time and freedom to care for Joan when she was diagnosed with cancer in 1994. She fought the disease for four years, with Walter devoting himself lovingly and completely to her during every hour of every day until she passed away in 1998 at the age of 67.
During the following decades, Walter focused on other passions. He took numerous driving trips across the country, went to Europe several times, and when he was home devoured history books and biographies, always continuing to learn. He played tennis and golf. And he watched the New York Mets, who had replaced the New York Giants in his heart from the moment they came into being. Trips to Shea Stadium and then Citi Field were among his favorite pastimes.
Upon being diagnosed with dementia, Walter moved to the Osborn, in Rye, New York, where he continued to read, make friends, and watch the Mets. He spent time with his children and their spouses, 13 grandchildren and, eventually, one great granddaughter. And even as memories faded, he recognized them, and would smile when he saw pictures of Joan and their life together. And even could, when prompted, manage a few bars of "God is Love."
Walter Coupe's life and passions will be celebrated first in a wake that will take place on Wednesday, June 14, at the Leo P. Gallagher Funeral Home in Stamford, CT, from 4-8 pm, and then in a funeral mass at St. Catherine of Siena in Riverside, CT, at 10 am on Thursday, June 15.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the Walter Coupe Scholarship Fund, supporting first generation college attendees. Checks should be made out to the Mamaroneck UFSD and mailed to: Clare Coupe Scott, 4851 Aziza Road, New Tripoli, PA 18066. Online donations will be accepted at http://bit.ly/2rbIe2F.
Which all seems like the right thing to do. Because now he is back with Joan, the great love of his life. And his unending enthusiasm for education will live on.
- KC's View: